COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge High School is a familiar landmark to Columbians, but people might not know that the street it is on has no name.
Some of the outer streets of the Providence Road corridor are without official names because of the confusion surrounding a flurry of road construction in the area and the transfer from state to local control. That’s causing problems with mapping inconsistencies and with safety, so the Columbia City Council is considering an ordinance to name the streets.
"As the area has evolved, the starting and ending points of the named roadways have changed to the point where the official road names are not clear and names are not consistently applied," Planning and Development Director Tim Teddy wrote in a report to the council. "This is an impediment to efficient emergency service and general record-keeping."
Teddy brought the idea to the council on Aug. 17 and was advised to prepare an ordinance that would be reviewed first by the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission this fall. The ordinance would propose:
- the outer road on the west side of Providence be officially named “Providence Outer Road,”
- the outer road on the east side of Providence, north of Green Meadows Road, be officially named “Carter Lane,”
- the outer road on the east side of Providence, south of Green Meadows, be officially named “Buttonwood Drive.”
Teddy estimated that more than 100 properties would have to change their addresses if the ordinance passes. Before the ordinance is drafted, however, property owners will be notified of the potential name changes.
"We wouldn't even expect folks all to sign off on the change, but we would like them to have the opportunity to give input," Teddy said.
Properties on the Providence Road corridor such as Jimmy's Family Steakhouse have "South Providence" addresses, but if the ordinance passes, the 20-year-old restaurant would have a "Providence Outer Road" address. Owner Jimmy Aslanidis said that even though he would prefer not to change his address, having the word "Providence" in his new address would be important.
"We might as well leave it like it is, but if it isn't a dramatic change like black and white, then it isn't too bad," Aslanidis said. "People know us as being on the outer road of Providence, so we already kind of use it."
Angelo's Pizza and Steakhouse, which has been at its South Providence address since 1991, is another restaurant that would be affected and need to change its address to "Providence Outer Road." Owner Angelo Skyvalidas said that he would need to talk to his neighbors and find out their feelings on the potential name change but that an address change is not at the forefront of his mind right now.
According to Teddy, many of the affected properties are on the west side of Providence Road, and the "trade-off" of the ordinance is that the word "Providence" would remain in their addresses. The ordinance also falls under a bigger plan to improve public safety countywide.
"Addresses are all based on a geographic grid that starts at Garth and Broadway, and you just number consecutively in the cardinal directions from that," Teddy said. "That is ground zero for addressing, and we're trying to make it that way through the whole county for 911 purposes."
The Public Works and Fire departments, as well as the Joint Communications and Information Center, have been involved in discussions about naming the streets. Zim Schwartze, interim director for Joint Communications, said the situation is a problem.
"It is not only about sending personnel to wrong locations but also a lack of understanding from a caller or lack of common nomenclature between dispatcher and caller because this can make the response time longer," she said. "It also helps citizens coming to our city, so you don't have to be from Columbia to know South Providence is part of the outer roads."